Immunization rates for teens ages 13-17 fall below national goals in Ohio and throughout the U.S. Part of the reason is that new vaccinations come on the market all the time and recommendations change. In fact, new immunization recommendations for middle schoolers go into effect this fall.
“Keeping teenagers’ immunizations current is important because there are so many diseases that we are able to prevent today that we were unable to protect against just 10 years ago,” said Dr. Susan Shah, a pediatrician at the Twinsburg office of Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics.
As a member of the Immunization Coalition of Summit County, Akron Children’s urges parents to check that their teens’ vaccinations are up to date based on recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Ohio Department of Health and the CDC.
If your teen is getting ready to head off to college, you’ll also want to check the vaccination requirements of that school. Most colleges now require students to have immunizations for certain diseases such as meningitis and hepatitis B.
If you’re unsure about your teens’ immunizations, check with your primary care doctor or attend an immunization clinic offered by the Summit County Public Health at one of their seven locations.
“Children encounter far more risks for diseases as they get older,” Dr. Shah said. “The shots they received as babies are not enough to last them a lifetime.”
Other reasons to get teens vaccinated include:
- Teens may be exposed when traveling abroad or from visitors from other countries where these diseases are more common and vaccination rates are not as high.
- Lower disease rates among teens may also decrease the chance they will pass diseases to higher risk populations such as the elderly, children and infants.
- The only time it’s safe to stop a vaccination is when a disease has been wiped out worldwide, as in the case of smallpox.
Speak with your doctor if you see, hear or read about side effects or downsides of immunization.